Lee Cawthon’s First Wife Escaped With Her Life; The Next One Was Not So Lucky
Genie Gagnon fled from her home while her husband was upstairs in bed with another woman.
Genie Gagnon was head over heels in love with Lee Cawthon — at least she thought she was. Lee flattered her and said he loved her. He supported her, and he cared so much about her. In fact, he said he cared so much that he insisted she wear baggy clothes so nobody else could see her figure. He didn’t want her fixing her hair or wearing makeup. She was his, and nobody else would be allowed to admire her beauty.
Despite the increasingly controlling tendencies that eventually led to physical violence, Genie stayed with him. They were in high school, and she believed she loved him. There were troubling signs though – he had an affinity for pornography involving death and animals, and his appetite for sex was practically unquenchable. When Genie fell pregnant before their senior year of high school. Lee pressured her to get an abortion, but Genie resisted.
The pair married and eventually had a second child. Things seemed stable for a few years, but then she caught Lee, by then 24 years old, making out with a teenage girl. Lee forced Genie to participate in a polyamorous relationship she did not want, but soon, Genie found the courage to take the children and leave Lee — the three of them snuck out and fled town while Lee was in bed with his mistress. She was ultimately granted a divorce, 100 percent custody of the kids, and a lifetime restraining order against him.
Lee turned around and married his 17-year-old mistress, Rebecca Murray, after the divorce from Genie was finalized, but the young woman had no idea she was walking into a trap. Lee and Rebecca practiced an open relationship, but tempers flared on Easter in 2017 while the Cawthons were drinking alcohol with a male sexual partner.
Lee assaulted Rebecca after an argument, injuring her badly enough that she sought help at a local hospital. The next morning, she returned home to get her things, and Lee reportedly shot her to death before she could leave him too.
According to reports, Lee completed a Greek death ritual with Rebecca’s body before stashing her in a 55-gallon drum and hiding it in a grease pit. It didn’t take long for Lee to confess to the murder once authorities realized Rebecca was missing, and he was sentenced to 45 years in prison in 2018. Lee reportedly committed suicide while in prison in 2021.
For more on this case, you can stream this episode of Evil Lives Here now on discovery+.
If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic violence, stalking, or abuse from a romantic partner, you can visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline website, call 1.800.799.SAFE or text START to 88788 for help. Advocates are available 24/7 to help callers talk through their situation and connect them with local resources. There is no charge to reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.